River Don flooding is making Jarrow pensioner's life a misery

A pensioner says a small river which repeatedly floods is making his life a misery.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19th January 2016, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 19th January 2016, 11:04 am
Harry Smith has told of the misery caused by trees falling into the River Don, blocking the water and leading to flooding.
Harry Smith has told of the misery caused by trees falling into the River Don, blocking the water and leading to flooding.

Harry Smith, of Hedworth Lane, Jarrow, lives in a remote property alongside the River Don.

A number of blockages in the river have led to it overflowing several times this winter, flooding Mr Smith’s yard.

Harry Smith has called on the Environment Agency to do something about the problem.

Mr Smith, 73, who lives alone and owns over 30 hens, says he has been having similar problems for up to 25 years, and has now called on the Environment Agency to help put an end to the problem.

A meeting is planned between Mr Smith, the Environment Agency and a representative of South Tyneside Council.

He said: “The river is in a hell of a state, and it’s affecting me a lot.

“Whenever we get heavy rain, the river seems to flood, as the water can’t get away because of the blockages.

The River Don regularly floods near Harry Smith's home, which floods his yard.

“That water then always comes into my yard and floods that, which affects me because of the livestock I keep.

“I’ve often got to go outside three or four times in the middle of the night to make sure the water hasn’t got in, because if it has, I have to move the hens up the yard and into the greenhouse to keep them safe, which isn’t ideal.

“It’s no wonder that the river keeps flooding, because it isn’t maintained.

“Trees are falling into it, blocking it, and the bank sides are eroding.”

Harry Smith says that whenever there's heavy rain, the Don floods.

Northumbrian Water recently carried out work to help reduce the risk of flooding to Mr Smith’s home, although the Environment Agency is responsible for the River Don.

However, the land around it is owned by Mr Smith and the council, with tree maintenance responsibility lying with the landowners, while riparian owners are responsible for maintaining the bed and banks of the river.

Mr Smith added: “This is quite a remote home, so it only tends to affect me.

“I’ve been having this problem for years, but I decided to do something about it this time because I’m sick of it.

Harry Smith has called on the Environment Agency to do something about the problem.

“I called the Environment Agency and the council, and they’re arranging a meeting with me to see where we go from here.”

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We regularly carry out maintenance and clearance works from rivers right across the North East when debris or blockages create a risk of flooding to properties.

“We take reports of blockages on a case by case basis. Anyone with any concerns about potential blockages in rivers which may cause a flood risk should get in touch with us so we can take further details.

“We’ve had previous discussions with this resident and we’re happy to discuss his concerns further and explain the process in more detail.”

A spokesman for South Tyneside Council said: “The council is aware of the problems affecting this property, and we are in the process of arranging a joint visit with the Environment Agency and Northumbrian Water to discuss this in more detail with the homeowner.”

The River Don regularly floods near Harry Smith's home, which floods his yard.
Harry Smith says that whenever there's heavy rain, the Don floods.